Wild Aphonopelma in Southern California

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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There are tons of holes in this area as well. Only a small majority are actually tarantula burrows. Most of the holes you will see are rodent burrows. It takes seeing a couple to develop an eye for what a tarantula burrow looks like. After awhile it becomes hard to miss them. The easiest ones to find have a thin layer of silk covering the burrow entrance. You will be able to spot the uncovered burrows after you get a feel for what they look like.

With more field experience you can spot scorpion burrows, trapdoor spider burrows, and tarantula burrows without breaking a sweat. :) Okay, this is the desert so you may break a sweat a few months out of the year. :)
 

Timmy

Arachnosquire
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how do tarantula burrows look like, and how do you tease them? Do you just drop some water in the hole?
 

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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Timmy,

Here are a few photos for you.

Tarantula burrow with thin layer of webbing over the entrance. There are ants in the area and this layer effectively prevents ants and other small insects from entering. Notice the debris pile of dirt, white flecks of dried poop, and pieces of molted exoskeleton.


Tarantula burrow open and ready for guests. Notice the tarantula legs visible a few inches below the entrance. This one does not have a huge debris pile, but there is webbing lining the entrance.


This is a rodent hole. Notice the lack of any webbing lining the sides. There is no debris pile around the entrance. Many burrows look similar to this after a rain washes away the debris pile. A closer inspection quickly reveals whether a tarantula is in residence or not.
 
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Crotalus

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Gil, I noticed the rodent holes in AZ most of the times had a small trail leading to the hole and lots of poop all around it
 

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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Lelle,

Good point Lelle. I noticed the same thing in Arizona. I see the same thing in a few of the burrows here. I also noticed that there are significantly more burrows of all types in this area. Perhaps many of the ones I see are no longer in service. I can't say for sure. Many of the ones around here don't have the trails leading to and from them. I really need to brush up on my mammals. :)
 

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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Here are a few other burrows in the area that are NOT tarantula burrows. Sorry, I'm in a posting mood. :)

Wolf Spider Burrow? California


Wolf Spider Burrow - Lycosidae - This one was spotted north of Phoenix, Arizona. They were fairly plentiful in all of the places I explored.


California Trapdoor Spider Burrow - Bothriocyrtum californicum


Scorpion Burrow - Anuroctonus pococki


Old Rodent Burrow with Snake Tenant - Lampropeltis getula californiae
 

Crotalus

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Great stuff Gil! Keep posting!!
That californian wolf spider burrow (?) reminds me of funnel web burrows I have seen pictures of
Did you managed to lure the trapdoor out?
 

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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Great stuff Gil! Keep posting!!
That californian wolf spider burrow (?) reminds me of funnel web burrows I have seen pictures of
Did you managed to lure the trapdoor out?

I took someone on a hike spefically to find a couple trapdoor spiders for him to keep. We dug up two. This is the only way I have ever been able to see one. I have never been able to tease one out with a blade of grass. They will not come to the surface with flooding. The only one I dug out previously was a specimen that had a burrow mostly washed out on the side of a road. About six inches (15cm) of the tube portion was sticking out of the roadside with the round base of the burrow still in the hillside. I wiggled it with a bit of hand digging and the whole burrow popped out. It looked just like a dirt vase. I wish I had photos of it.

Below is one of the two we dug up. I didn't get any fantastic photos of them.
California Trapdoor Spider - Bothriocyrtum californicum


I have a photo of one of those spiders I teased out of the "Wolf Spider Burrow? California. I just can't find it right now. I don't really know what it is. I will post it when I find the photo.
 

Doezsha

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That looks like some Habitats in parts of Northern Cali now im cerious to see if theres any wild T's in my area. We have have a nice Regional park in my city and alot of nice habitat in the sarounding hills... wen it warms up im going to more hikeing and exploreing.
 

Timmy

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Thanks a lot GQ, that's really helpfull. That trapdoor spider is a trip! I didn't know they had urticating hairs, big fangs, and venom! Looks like a tarantula with a bald butt.
 

Crotalus

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Thanks a lot GQ, that's really helpfull. That trapdoor spider is a trip! I didn't know they had urticating hairs, big fangs, and venom!
They do have venom and fangs but no urticating hair to my knowledge
 

sntcruzan

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In my experience,the slope needs to be south facing and not in the shade.We went collecting in the hills south of Shaver Lake and higher elevation.We collected 15 T's between the 11 of us.September /October work best when the grasses are drier and that makes it easier to locate the silk covered burrows.

Fred
 

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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Timmy,

I forgot to add what teasing them out means. Teasing them out simply means trying to lure them out with a blade of grass. I try to imitate a small insect struggling at the burrow entrance. Occasionally they fall for it and come rushing up to grab it.

I'm with Lelle on the trapdoor spider. I don't know that they have urticating hairs.

Doezsha,

Don't forget your camera when you hit the hills!

stncruzan,

I haven't noticed any burrow preference for slopes in this area. I have found them on North, South, West, and East facing slopes as well as on flat land. The flat land burrows have been fewer. The majority of them are found on hillsides. We are at a low elevation so that may be different than higher elevation areas. I don't know. I did find one high elevation tarantula in Arizona on a North facing slope.
 

atavuss

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That looks like some Habitats in parts of Northern Cali now im cerious to see if theres any wild T's in my area. We have have a nice Regional park in my city and alot of nice habitat in the sarounding hills... wen it warms up im going to more hikeing and exploreing.
you should have lots of t's in your area, for instance there are t's at Mt. Diablo, but since it is a park you cannot take them. I used to find lots of wandering males behind Livermore on Mines road in the fall. please be aware of rattlesnakes too! this would not be the best time to go looking for any critters though, spring and fall would be best I would imagine.
have you been to East Bay Vivarium in Berkeley? they usually have a few inverts although they can be a bit pricey. if you like herps EBV is the place to be!
also, have you been to the Bone Room in Berkeley? if you like bones, skulls, mounted insects you would be interested in this place.
 
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Timmy

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Thanks, next time I go to the lake, I'm going to tease me a tarantula. :)
 

dtknow

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Hmmm how do you tell the wolfy burrows from T burrows? The only major difference I see is the silk looks a tad different.

Some guy who lived right next to where I caught one that I have says he thinks they prefer disturbed ground(sections of roadcuts). I noticed lots of grasshoppers hopping around where I found mine.

Now wouldn't be a bad time of year to find them, my dad says he nearly ran over a male a few days ago.
 

flamingo-kid1

Arachnosquire
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Great Job

This thread is absolutely FASCINATING.. thank you for posting it!

I am near Chicago, the winters are COLD, my pet t's are all fat and sassy, (27 girls) and it was a REAL treat to see your pictures and read the descriptions.

Living here, real tarantula habitat is hard to imagine.. my girls are a LOT safer in their jars!

BEAUTIFUL job, and please keep it up!
 

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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Hmmm how do you tell the wolfy burrows from T burrows? The only major difference I see is the silk looks a tad different.
dtknow,

I'm sorry for the slow response. I forgot all about this thread. Yes, the silk looks very different in person. It is easy to determine the difference between a wolf spider burrow and tarantula burrow after you have examined both types in real life. Some wolf spiders also incorporate small pieces of twigs into their burrow opening turret.

flamingo-kid1,

Thanks. I do feel very fortunate to live in close proximity to a lot of wild critters. It is amazing that most people live their entire lives in the same area and never know of any of these critters that live around them. The biggest key to finding a lot of invertebrates and other wildlife is just getting out in the field. I have made some great finds on quick fifteen minute hikes.
 

SouthernStyle

Arachnobaron
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What area of SoCal are you in? I've been auround the LA area out in the hills and havn't seen anything to the effect of any sort of spider burrows, And my Little brother goes up to the hills out there pretty often since he lives out that way...Just curious so I could send him out to go take a gander at some of the Local T's
 

GQ.

Arachnodemon
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I'm in San Diego. The open hillsides around LA are much the same as they are down here.
 
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